Novell Inc’s revamped strategy fell into place last week, and will see it refocussing on its networking strengths and, as a consequence, retreating from its battle to take on Microsoft Corp on the desktop, in all areas bar its GroupWise and PerfectOffice application suites. As predicted, the first casualty of the new look Novell is […]
Novell Inc’s revamped strategy fell into place last week, and will see it refocussing on its networking strengths and, as a consequence, retreating from its battle to take on Microsoft Corp on the desktop, in all areas bar its GroupWise and PerfectOffice application suites. As predicted, the first casualty of the new look Novell is its long-term SuperNOS strategy, the combined NetWare-UnixWare operating system which had been due for launch in 1997. Novell denies that this a a major about-face, saying that SuperNOS had never been intended as an operating system per se, but more as a conceptual strategy, which will be fulfilled through the deal under which Santa Cruz Operation Inc is taking over UnixWare. Despite its retreat from full competition with Microsoft, Robert Frankenberg, chairman and chief executive of Novell, could not resist making a few swipes at its erstwhile rival: talking of the new strategy, he said that Novell’s goal is to compete in areas that Microsoft doesn’t, won’t or can’t address.
Similarly, he added that we’re talking about [supporting] all clients and all networks; this is an anathema to Microsoft. Specifically, Novell has embarked on initiative, codenamed Net2000, to develop an open set of application programming interfaces to extend NetWare services to heterogeneous environments. Novell says it plans to enhance client support for operating systems including Windows, Windows95, NT, Mac OS, OS/2 and Unix, while support for application servers including NT and OS/2 (as well as UnixWare, Santa Cruz Open Server and HP-UX) will also be incorporated. Interfaces will be provided for NetWare Directory Services, security, administration and management, messaging, licensing, object transaction, application management, communications, and back-up and storage. Also planned are interfaces for Novell’s Advanced File System, Distributed Print Services, and NetWare’s database, host communications, and remote access services. NetWare itself will be enhanced to include memory protection, clustering, and distributed object management. The company says the Net2000 interfaces will integrate with development tools including Visual C++, Borland C++ and other C++ environments, and proprietary tools such as Visual Basic, Delphi, and PowerBuilder. Programming models including procedural- and object-based methodologies will be supported and, as a result, Net2000 application programming interfaces and Net2000 objects will be provided, says Novell. For example, the company says that Net2000 interfaces will be available through a set of Novell-developed Object Linking & Embedding-Common Object Model objects for Windows-based clients. On other systems it will deliver objects through interfaces such as CORBA. Novell says the interfaces will be made available as a pre-release software developer’s kit late next spring. Conceptually, all the Novell initiatives are designed to further Novell’s grand vision: the Smart Global Network.
By Matthew Woollacott and Maya Anaokar
Announcing the bold new strategy, Frankenberg said he expects a consolidation of existing networks into one affiliated data network, over the coming years. While this will be based primarily on the worldwide telephony network, it will include the Internet, and will improve it. With this vision in mind, Novell wants to be the company to supply interconnection access, and sees its NetWare Connect Services as the primary vehicle for doing this. Frankenberg said that AT&T Corp’s forthcoming service based on the technology will become commercially available in December, and that five PTTs covering major parts of Europe and Asia will announce similar services in the near future. Frankenberg said further that he expects a further 15 PTTs to add support within the next year. AT&T’s offering has been described as an Internet with rules that will provide a secure network that would enable NetWare users to log on anywhere and reach anywhere in the world – and Novell is producing a NetWare World Wide Web server whic
h will be available in the first quarter of next year. Alongside wired access to this promised network, Novell sees other technologies – including cellular, cable television and radio – as important, as well as its recently-announced technology for providing energy management applications over power lines. In its pursuit of Frankenberg’s oft-described notion of pervasive networking, it is aiming for 1,000m networked connections by 2000 on this global network, with people accessing information they want, wherever they are and whenever they want to. All via NetWare, of course. The final plank of the new strategy centres on Novell’s application suites. Novell says that the next release of its PerfectOffice – designed for Windows95 – will include a new set of networking features not available in other suites. Applications management, network performance optimisation, software distribution and NetWare Directory Services integration will be incorporated, says the company. On the GroupWise side, new features slated for the next release during the first half of 1996 will include a universal in-box, says Novell, enabling users to combine electronic mail, speech messages, facsimile messages, work assignments, task management, and personal scheduling. A full replication facility to enhance mobile access and support will also be included, the company adds.
Accompanying the new Novell vision is a new Novell logo, a join-the-dots type of design, intended to convey the dynamics of the networked world, and some renaming of key elements of its technologies. The new nomenclature will use Net and Ware at every available opportunity: Novell NEST becomes Nested NetWare (an ironic move since Novell originally tried to distance NEST from its flagship operating system by naming it the Novell – rather than NetWare – Embedded Systems Technology); the Yes campaigns become YesNet, and even the company’s public relations and marketing departments have got in on the act, dubbing their public relations activities MediaNet. This refocusing on networking also has the advantage of sidestepping the Windows NT threat because Novell is no longer treating NetWare as an operating system but as selection of networking services. By doing so and pushing the global network idea, Frankenberg has picked up Oracle Corp’s chief executive Larry Ellison’s idea that the personal computer is not the end-all and be-all of the computer age (CI No 2,755). Intelligent devices such as printers, facsimile machines and toasters, currently outsell personal computers 10 to one and Novell wants to get all these devices hooked up to the network.